Nov. 12, 2009
Former Vols Kaden Hensel and Adam Hubble are back in the Goodfriend Tennis Center this week for the Knoxville Challenger.
As a doubles team, Hensel and Hubble breezed through the first round Wednesday evening with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Roko Karanusic and Grega Zemlja. The two Australian natives entered the tournament seeded third and play Thursday afternoon against Somdev Devvarman and Purav Raja.
Hensel picked up one of the biggest wins of his pro career Tuesday, defeating No. 90 Kevin Kim 6-0, 7-6 (2) on Tuesday.
In the last year alone, professional tennis has taken Hensel and Hubble to all points on the globe. They are just off a semifinal appearance in doubles at last week's Virginia National Bank Men's Professional Tennis Championship in Charlottesville, Va. Hensel moved up eight spots to No. 166 in the ATP doubles rankings, and Hubble improved to No. 170.
Hensel was a four-year lettermen and a two-time All-America for the Vols in 2007 and 2008. He finished his collegiate career with a 66-48 record in singles, playing primarily in the No. 1 position. Hubble played for the Vols 2006 and 2007, and he had a 26-15 record, including a 20-7 record in 2008.
Q: Sure, it's not exactly a vacation, but what's it like coming back to Knoxville to play in a tournament?
Kaden: I was here for a long time, so it's like a second home.
Adam: I wasn't here quite as long. I was only here three semesters, but yeah, it feels like a second home. Always come back here to use it kind of as a training base, so it's good.
Q: You had a lot of success at last week's tournament. How do you guys feel like you've been playing lately?
Kaden: We were playing OK in Australia leading up to these tournaments. We were playing in completely different conditions. It was really hot in Australia, and we were playing outdoors obviously. So coming back indoors, it's a little bit different, but luckily, in college we got used to indoors.
Adam: Our form has been pretty good of late. We've been getting job done on the doubles court. We've been playing together a lot, so we've gelled together pretty well. Obviously, we were coached under the same system in college, so it's easy to play with each other.
Q: How did you guys end up doubles partners professionally?
Kaden: Well, we both went here and left at a similar time. And being from Australia, we got taught the same way. We do little hand signals and stuff like that. We've just gotten used to playing with each other, and it's become quite an advantage, I feel.
Q: Being professional tennis players, you spend a lot of time on the road. About how many weeks a year do you play?
Adam: Quite a lot. We left home to play in the Australian circuit at the start of the year through all of February. Then we left for our first trip off to Canada in March. We were on the road for about six months and went to all sorts of places. We ended up in Uzbekistan, of all places.
We got home from there, and played some more Australian tournaments. We had a two-week break at home and then played some more Australian tournaments before we came here. We'll be here right through until December. It's obviously a year-round schedule.
Kaden: I spent four weeks this year at home in total.
Q: What's been your favorite place to play so far?
Kaden: Apart from here?
Adam: Here, of course.
Kaden: I enjoyed the Netherlands.
Adam: Yeah, the Netherlands were good. Italy wasn't too bad either. That was a pretty cool place.
Q: What do you miss the most about playing at UT?
Kaden: The team. The camaraderie. Having a team supporting you and just cheering you on. Professional tennis is a little different. A lot of the time, it's very dead. There's no atmosphere, not like you have in college. I miss that a lot.
Adam: Yeah, it's exactly the same way for me. The college atmosphere is a lot better. It's obviously more professional on tour. Guys have sort of calmed down, and the crowd doesn't get into it as much. You have to generate your own energy.
Q: Now for one last question: now that you're in Knoxville for the week, what's the one restaurant in town that you'd want to visit the most?
Kaden: My favorite restaurant just closed down. Pasta Trio in the old city.
Adam: Pasta Trio was a pretty solid place right there.
Q: Okay, then what's a second-favorite? Maybe one that's still open?
Kaden: (After a pause) Outback.
Adam: Outback Steakhouse? Can't get past the old Aussie Outback!
Kaden: Well, the food's actually pretty good. I like the food. In Australia, you don't have any of these Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill places, so when we come over here, it's so good. There are free refills, and so you get a huge meal for 15 bucks.